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Other Minds Festival 16: Composer Fellowship Concert

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Other Minds Festival 16: Composer Fellowship Concert


Published March 2, 2011


As part of its continuing commitment to the promotion of new music Other Minds introduces its Composer Fellowship Program, in which four young and relatively unknown composers were selected from a host of applicants to meet and interact with the OM 16 composers during their residency program, and to have one of their works performed at a special Fellowship Concert held at the Meridian Gallery in San Francisco on March 2, 2011. The four selected composers were: Nicholas Chase, a former indie rock star turned inventive electro-acoustic composer who is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute under the advisement of Pauline Oliveros; Lisa R. Coons, a composer and a sound artist with a special affinity to noise composition and experimentation, and currently a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University; Ben Hjertmann, a Chicago-based composer, performer, and self-described genre vagabond, currently a Doctoral Fellow in Composition at Northwestern University; and Žibuoklė Martinaitytė, a Lithuanian-born composer who favors unconventional blend of timbres, expressive virtuosity, and extreme instrumental registers, and whose work is gradually gaining recognition in the United States.

Music Painted from Memory

This piece is intended as a study of the place where I grew up: a small farming community in the Midwest. Each movement is based on the harmonic language of a specific Baptist hymn, and is presented as a sketch of that time and place so distant from my present life. The first movement opens with an attempt to capturing the physical landscape. The violin and ‘cello intertwine gently undulating gestures to depict the subtle slopes of hills and the groans of trees and barns in the wind. But as the movement progresses, the emphasis shifts from the actual space to the imagined artist’s frustrations at not being able to capture the essence of that world. The entire movement is a transition from portraying a specific natural space to illustrating the physical and emotional effects of trying to do so. The second movement is meant to capture the sensations of working on the farm around aging and breaking equipment. There is a franticness to this section, as the human performers struggle to keep up with the unpredictable needs of the mechanical creatures around them. The final movement is a Baptist hymn, distorted by memory and warped in homage to the unique sounds of amateur choirs and out-of-tune church pianos. It is a portrait of nostalgia. - Lisa R. Coons

Bhyxe

Originally recorded in 2010 by the Callithumpian Consort under the direction of Stephen Drury, this award winning composition has since been revised and received its new world premiere at OM 16. It has been described in the program guide as a "dark concentration of sound, from which there slowly forms a melodic figure. The instruments extend from the pulsing core as tendrils, liberated, yet deeply entrenched in the original energy."

Gin Blossoms & Broccoli Boutonnières
(Dedicated to Dorothy Stone)

In 2004, California E.A.R. Unit co-founder, Dorothy Stone, asked me for a duo for flute and DJ. Dorothy’s idea came from playing "Sp!t" and "OPUS" with the California E.A.R. Unit, both works I composed capitalizing on the daftness of records played backwards, forwards, and at the wrong speed. One movement of "OPUS" featured Dorothy on bass flute with Marty Walker on bass clarinet, playing along with the crackles and pops of a skipping LP. In many ways I felt I’d exhausted my ideas for flute and DJ in that movement, but Dorothy challenged me to keep on thinking. The piece she asked for lay in sketches at the time of Dorothy’s unexpected death in 2008. Dorothy never saw those sketches, although we talked about the piece at length on several occasions.

"Gin Blossoms & Broccoli Boutonnières" is a bagatelle. It recapitulates my childhood fascination with the sound of all the things you can (but shouldn’t) do with a record. It also captures the spirit of my relationship with Dorothy — which was always filled with a lot of irreverence and laughter. - Nicholas Chase

American Hodgepodge

The electronic part in this piece consists of all the sounds, which for me as a relative newcomer to this country represent the American way of life. Cross-cultural perceptions and misinterpretations of commonly understood concepts are reflected through usage of the sounds of language, media and outer natural or civic environments. The instrumental part has an independent source of musical material and it reflects the process of adaptation of the individual to a new society/country/way of existence.

The piece consists of 7 parts played without interruption, each denoting one of the typical characteristics of American culture and mentality.
Part I (multiplicity)
Part II (ever-present "How are you?")
Part III (stress)
Part IV (the state of “okayness”)
Part V (speed)
Part VI (commercialism)
Part VII (individualism)

A common thread that moves throughout the piece is the news broadcast. World news, politics, sports and commercials, weather forecasts – all these different categories of news are being heard in various parts of the piece. News segments have been recorded from multiple sources on the Internet and selected based on the timbre of voice rather than the messages conveyed. - Žibuoklė Martinaitytė


Run time 60 min

Notes

For more detailed program information and to browse other material in the Other Minds Archive visit: radiOM.org

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